A guide to pro-Russian actors in Europe
2019 was marked by a series of harmful for Ukraine Russia’s “wins” in the international field. For example, Russia’s return to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. However, the successes of the country-aggressor would hardly be possible, if it did not have international allies. The International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda is researching Russia’s political allies in various countries and shared some of its conclusions with Promote Ukraine.
“The reason, no matter how banal, is the continuous flow of Russian propaganda. Some may think that the information war is just Russian talk shows and fake news. However, this is far from the case,” said Valentyna Bykova, a media expert and analyst at the International Center for Countering Russian Propaganda.
Here is a far from a complete list of what the Kremlin is doing to manipulate the public opinion:
- uses diplomatic missions as propaganda repeaters;
- finances the distribution of propaganda materials in foreign media;
- involves controlled media in campaigns to discredit certain figures, politicians, or entire social groups;
- uses specially trained representatives of special services “undercover” in combat zones, in the role of OSCE inspectors, journalists, employees of international organizations, etc.;
- created and supports a number of foreign “historical”, “cultural” organizations that continue pro-Russian propaganda rhetoric in other countries;
- embodies the practice of using “useful idiots” in propaganda campaigns and events of information and psychological influence;
- with the help of a specially created system of Internet bots fill the information space with frankly false information (fakes);
- conducts disinformation campaigns and information and psychological operations.
All this is a well-established mechanism, managed from a single-center, and provided with virtually unlimited financial resources. Agree, that not many countries can afford to clench their fists so hard.
The core of the pro-Russian lobby
Consider Russia’s allies. For example, in Germany – one of the pillars of the European Union. And from the first days of Russian aggression, this country has been actively involved in all processes: it is part of the “Normandy Four”, proposed the so-called “Steinmeier formula” and so on. The importance of this country, and hence of its public opinion, is indisputable both for Ukraine and for the aggressor-country.
So who is the core of the pro-Russian lobby in Germany?
This is the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) – a German right-wing populist movement founded in December 2014 in Dresden.
In addition, PEGIDA activists are known for their Russian flags during the demonstrations. The movement calls for the immediate normalization of relations between Germany and Russia.
There is also the National Democratic Party “Alternative for Germany” – a right-wing conservative and Eurosceptic political party in Germany, founded on 6 February 2013. Today, the AfD is the most active political force in the Bundestag that supports Russia. The party regularly sends so-called “observers” to the elections in Russia, in the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine, and in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is actively used by Russian propaganda to give the appearance of their legitimacy.
In particular, AfD party leaders Alexander Gauland and Jörg Moyten were among the first German politicians to congratulate Putin on his re-election and promise to “make every effort to bring German-Russian relations back to a constructive level. This also means lifting sanctions that are harmful to both sides”.
In turn, commenting on Russia’s military operation in Syria, one of the founders of the “Left” Gregor Gisi stressed that the Russians were called for help by the President of Syria Assad, and therefore, in terms of international law, it is more legitimate than the operations of other states.
The Free Democratic Party of Germany (FDP) is a liberal party in Germany, founded on 11 December 1948. It is distinguished by its ambiguous position on Russia.
A leading FDP official, Wolfgang Kubicki, has recently been pushing for the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions. Otherwise, the politician believes, the case will return to the realities of the Cold War. In addition, Kubitsky has repeatedly stated that German agriculture is at a disadvantage due to sanctions, and the German industry is forced to leave Russia.
The politician is also convinced that Britain is wrong to accuse Russia of poisoning its former agent with a neuro-paralytic substance. He also supports a high-profile project to build the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline.
Russia’s next ally, the Bavarian Economic Union (VBW), is Germany’s largest business association, with more than 130 economic associations and 40 private companies in Bavaria.
The party’s leader, Bertram Brossardt, said that “Russia is an important trading partner for us, and the dialogue should not be interrupted”. Anti-Russian sanctions, in his opinion, “were a mistake: they did not contribute to any political change, but seriously harmed the economy”.
The Center for Continental Cooperation in Munich (CCC) is an international non-governmental organization that brings together politicians, journalists, scholars, and public figures from Europe and Eurasia to help create a “common space from Lisbon to Vladyvostok” based on strengthening friendship and cooperation between the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union. The headquarters of the CCC is located in Munich.
The declared goals of the CCC are the liberation of Europe from US hegemony in all spheres of public life: military, political, economic, and media. As well as the creation of a continental European common economic, social and cultural space, including Russia, as a basis for guaranteeing security, peace, and prosperity in Europe. The organization has close ties with Moscow, with its head, Yuri Kofner is the head of the Eurasian Movement of Oleksandr Dugin, one of the ideologues of Russian nationalism.